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Vacation Reflections

15 August 2023

Janie came back from her disconnected vacation feeling rested, recharged, and thoughtful about what she learned from the experience.

Tags: balance, janie read, vacation

In my last post, I wrote about my tendencies to self-sabotage vacation time and how I wanted to do things differently this year. I’m delighted to report that I was successful at staying off email and taking this break was so worth it. I came back feeling like I’d gotten a chance to relax and full of happy memories and renewed energy from lots of time in and on the water with my family. We had fantastic weather and went swimming in the lake multiple times a day every day.

Since we got back, I’ve spent time reflecting on why I was able to disconnect this time when I’ve had so much trouble doing so previously. I think there are several factors that made things easier, but one of the biggest things was going somewhere and not being in my usual home environment. For me, staycations aren’t very rejuvenating. I want them to be, and have tried several times, but they don’t work for me in this season of life. I end up spending way too much time trying to get things done around the house and be “productive.” When I’m not at home, it’s so much easier to not feel like I should be doing anything other than relaxing and being present with my family.

It was also important for me to hide my email app on my phone. I hid my Outlook app on the second screen of a folder, so I couldn’t see it at all. This might sound silly, but it was really helpful because I have such a habit of clicking on my email, that there were a few times my finger tried to click on it before my brain engaged. If I hadn’t moved the app, I would have been in my email before I even really realized it. It’s also important to note that I wouldn’t have been able to completely disconnect from my email if I didn’t have a supportive team back at the office making this possible. I’m very grateful to Rachel for covering for me, so I didn’t need to think about work while we were away.

I also made a point of leaving my phone inside quite a bit instead of keeping it with me all the time. I used it for photos, but not much else. Leaving my phone behind meant I was much more present with my boys. It also meant that I drastically reduced the amount of time I spent on social media. This wasn’t something I deliberately planned, but I found I really enjoyed it and have been trying to keep up the habit of not spending so much time on social media since I’ve been back.

I learned that taking this disconnected time is incredibly important and valuable for my mental health and for my productivity at work. I came back with renewed energy and have found it easier to stay focused and get things done. Allison has written numerous articles about the importance of vacation and the benefits of unplugging from work. I experienced these benefits firsthand and made a promise to myself to make a point of scheduling a week of disconnected vacation every year going forward.

Ironically, when I returned to the office and started going through my email, one of the newsletters I subscribe to featured the Harvard Business Review article, How Taking a Vacation Improves Your Well-Being by Rebecca Zucker. I thought the article was a nice complement to the ones we’ve featured in the past on the blog, especially if you like reading about the science behind why taking vacation time is so important. If you haven’t already scheduled vacation time for yourself this year, I hope this post will help you find time for it. 


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